stairs and rubbed
his palm over her hair as he passed her. “Forget about it La. I
need you to go find Reese now. I’ll take care of Nae. Where is
    La lifted her face to look at El.
“Hell if I know. He doesn’t tell me a damn thing.”
    “ Maybe he would, if you
listened. When you find Reese, follow him for a bit before you
bring him to me. I want to know what he’s doing when he thinks no
one is watching.”
    “ Okay. What about Trace?
The jeep?”
    “ Leave ‘em. Trace will
turn up.”
    “ Yes sir.” La stood and
gave a mock salute. She ambled toward the tree line, stripping off
clothes as she strode. Minutes later, a large Bald Eagle burst
through the branches and into the skyline extending its eight foot
wing span to glide on the currents.
    When Aristotle found La, she was a
baby bird hiding in the hollow at the base of a tree. They had just
emigrated from Africa, and Ari was just a cub himself. As Gunter
discussed business plans with him, the only building standing was
the bar, and it was in ruins from years of neglect. All around
them, pride members were working. They were living in tents and
trying to rebuild a forgotten and abandoned town in the middle of
nowhere. He’d only been clan chief for about a year, and he was
still a young lion himself. Ari came running up to him, begging to
keep his new pet. Since he’d made it a point to keep all the orphan
cubs together, keeping a baby bird seemed like a great distraction
for them, and later on, it made a great way to teach them hunting
skills. Then, she shifted.
    El snorted.
    That was unexpected. But he wouldn’t
change a thing. He watched those kids grow up into fantastic
beings, and even though he threatened them with dire consequences
on an almost daily basis, they were his family. And, if necessary,
he would kill to protect them.
    He pushed the key in the lock and
turned it. The door easily swung open. El eased into the great room
and glanced around. He lifted his face and sniffed the air.
Tendrils of her candied ginger smell wrapped around him. His cock
hardened as he took deep breaths. After adjusting his shaft, he
moved through the room and into the dining area. Nae sat with her
back to him. The knife block, which usually sat next to the stove,
was now on the counter, close to her. He moved around to her side
and caught a glint of steel when she tightened her grip on the
    Without turning her head, she spoke.
“Why is there a full grown tiger at your back door?”
    El looked up and followed her line of
sight. Trace, in his tiger form, lay against the patio door, his
face smashed on the glass with his tongue lolling out the side of
his mouth. El stepped farther into the room. Trace rose, yawned,
and trotted away.
    Nae continued to study the
exit. “One more step big man and I will cut you.”
    “ Woman, haven’t you
figured out your threats don’t scare me?” El moved around the
    “ They should. So what, are
you ready to come back to Reno?”
    “ I believe we had this
discussion, and I’m sure I made myself clear. Nevada is not going
to happen, but I will certainly enjoy your efforts to persuade
    “ Sorry babe but that was a
one off.” She swiveled around on the stool. “You didn’t answer my
question. I’m waiting for you to explain the tiger.”
    “ Suiker , if anyone else talked to me the way you do I would have
ripped out their heart.”
    “ Forgive me if I’m not
shaking in my shoes.” She stood, marched up to El, and pressed the
point of the chef’s knife into his belly.
    “ I thought we established
yesterday I have no fear of death. You will learn not to test me
mate.” He moved forward. The sting of the knife was momentary as it
sliced through his skin. Warmth spread through his torso as blood
blossomed in the spot where she’d pierced his skin.
    She looked down and jumped
back, pulling the knife from his body. “Have you lost your fucking
mind?” Then, she mumbled almost to herself,

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